“Views on First” begins with arguably the most famous Twitter handle of all—@realdonaldtrump—and the Knight Institute’s groundbreaking lawsuit establishing that the First Amendment bars public officials from blocking critics from their social media accounts. Over the course of five episodes, host Evelyn Douek—legal scholar and a self-described content-moderation nerd—talks to guests from the tech industry, legal practice, and academia about some of the thorniest questions that arise when social media collides with the First Amendment.
The five-episode series starts on January 18, 2023, with new episodes posting on Wednesdays. Subscribe wherever you get podcasts.
Episode Two: A Slippery Slope?
Thanks to the ruling in Knight v. Trump, then-president Trump could no longer block critics on social media. Hooray! But the ruling was only the start of the story, and quickly new questions arose. How would it affect other government officials? What might it mean for the development of the law more generally? Could the ruling be used in ways that the Knight Institute team didn't expect and doesn’t agree with? In this episode, host Evelyn Douek is joined by Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman and former Twitter head of integrity Yoel Roth. Together they explore the ramifications of Knight v. Trump, and ask: Did the case establish much-needed guardrails around free speech online, or is it starting us on a slippery slope that could fundamentally change how the First Amendment applies to social media platforms?
Episode One: What is Twitter?
What is Twitter (or any social media platform) as a matter of First Amendment law? Host Evelyn Douek begins to crack open this question, starting with perhaps the most famous Twitter handle of all—@realdonaldtrump. As president, Trump used his account to hire and fire government officials, butt heads with North Korea, and block his critics, a practice that one group of lawyers started to question.
Guests Jameel Jaffer and Katie Fallow—executive director and senior counsel at the Knight Institute, respectively—discuss the Institute’s landmark case—Knight v. Trump—establishing that the First Amendment bars public officials from blocking critics from their social media accounts. They are joined by some of the plaintiffs from that lawsuit—comedy writer Nick Jack Pappas, chocolatier and political consultant Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, and sociologist Philip Cohen, who recount their experiences of being blocked (and then unblocked) by Trump.
What is Twitter? Yes, it’s where you find the latest news and commentary, read about celebrities you love (or hate), and have a nice, civilized discussion with fellow users (read: sarcasm). But is it the public square? Nothing but a private platform? And what are social media platforms’ rights and obligations under First Amendment law?
Host and writer - Evelyn Douek
Co-writer, producer, editor - Merrin Lazyan
Executive Producer - Candace White
Production assistant and fact-checker - Kushal Dev
Sound design - Matt Boynton
Audio and production services - Ultraviolet Audio
Artwork - Melinda Beck